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Rheumatoid Arthritis (cont.)

Rheumatoid Arthritis Classification

The American College of Rheumatology has developed a system for classifying rheumatoid arthritis based on X-ray changes and signs of joint injury. This system helps medical professionals determine the severity of your rheumatoid arthritis.

Stage I

  • no damage seen on X-rays, although there may be signs of bone thinning

Stage II

  • on X-ray, evidence of bone thinning around a joint with or without slight bone damage
  • slight cartilage damage possible
  • joint mobility may be limited; no joint deformities observed
  • atrophy of adjacent muscle
  • abnormalities of soft tissue around joint possible

Stage III

  • on X-ray, evidence of cartilage and bone damage and bone thinning around the joint
  • joint deformity without permanent stiffening or fixation of the joint
  • extensive muscle atrophy
  • abnormalities of soft tissue around joint possible

Stage IV

  • on X-ray, evidence of cartilage and bone damage and osteoporosis around joint
  • joint deformity with permanent stiffening or fixation of the joint (ankylosis)
  • extensive muscle atrophy
  • abnormalities of soft tissue around joint possible

Rheumatologists also classify the functional status of people with rheumatoid arthritis as follows:

  • Class I: completely able to perform usual activities of daily living
  • Class II: able to perform usual self-care and work activities but limited in activities outside of work (such as playing sports, household chores)
  • Class III: able to perform usual self-care activities but limited in work and other activities
  • Class IV: limited in ability to perform usual self-care, work, and other activities

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Treatment

What treatment was effective for your rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis - Medications

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Rheumatoid Arthritis - Early Symptoms

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?





Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Rheumatoid Arthritis »

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic systemic inflammatory disease of unknown cause that primarily affects the peripheral joints in a symmetric pattern.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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